Waters Run Deep.
Written for the Third Floor Corridor contest.
"Who'd have thought Voldemort would hide yet another Horcrux in Hogwarts?" Harry thought, climbing past a huge boulder. He looked around. Well, not exactly IN Hogwarts. He had to be at least a mile outside the castle. He briefly wondered if Snape had known this vast expanse of dungeons when he had told Harry about the hidden entrance in an unused corridor. Harry looked at his robes. Unused it had been for many centuries, apparently, judging by the sheer amount of dust.
He briefly wished Ron and Hermione had been able to join him, but Ron hadn't yet recovered from the injuries he had sustained during their journey to retrieve another Horcrux, and Hermione was needed to brew the complicated potions her fiancee had to take daily to recover.
So when Snape had sent his message in the usual code about another of the Horcruxes, Harry had gone alone. Nevertheless, he was well equipped. Hermione had designed the belt he was wearing which held not only Godric Gryffindors sword, but also a stack of various potions. The belt had spells on them that automatically preserved and protected the vials and potions from being damaged in various ways.
Snape had warned that the Dark Lord was becoming more anxious now that Harry was progressing with the destruction of the Horcruxes, and might have sent someone to protect it.
So far, though, the only thing that threatened Harry was fatigue. He had been in this path of the dungeons for at least 6 or 7 hours, and no sign of any Horcrux whatsoever. Transfiguring a couple of stones into cheese and bread he sat down to eat, after making sure the area was indeed deserted.
Harry wondered if Snape could have led him astray; he knew Dumbledore trusted the man, ordered Snape to kill him that night, but still he was cautious.
"Oh well, Hermione would probably point out that his information so far has been absolutely reliable," Harry mused, chewing and contemplating his next move.
Another hour he walked, and though he marked his path he got a bit fed up. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, a dusty, moldy wooden door appeared.
Checking it for hexes, Harry found nothing. He carefully stood back and pointed his wand at it. "Alohomora!"
The door opened. Peaking inside, Harry saw a small corridor leading into a large chamber.
He cautiously entered.
As soon as he reached the chamber, he heard an ominous rumbling and stones fell to block up the passage. Wards flared, the doors disappeared and nothing but solid wall remained.
Crying out in frustration, Harry tried every spell he knew on the door.
"Don't bother," a familiar female voice said.
Turning around, Harry stared in the face, and wandtip, of Bellatrix Lestrange.
"At least now we know who the spy is," the woman continued with a sly grin, "only Snape could have told you to come here. No one else but me knew how to enter these caves. Awww, is the wittle baby scared?" she pouted.
"In case you didn't notice, you are just as locked in here as I am," Harry said.
"No, I'm not. There is another exit, but it can only be opened…DRAT!" she exclaimed.
Harry saw his chance, and leaped behind a rock, drawing his wand.
"EXPELLIARMUS!" he cried, disarming Bellatrix.
He advanced on her, wand in hand.
"You will pay for Sirius now, you bitch. I promised Neville I'd let him have you if I could, but I'm sure he won't blame me…"
"If you kill me you won't get out of here, Potter," the witch yelled, "the other exit requires the Dark Mark to open it."
"So? I'll just cut off your mark after I kill you."
"You don't understand," the witch said, backed against a wall, "it needs an active Mark. One that is alive, and connected to our Lord. And…"
"And what?" Harry shouted.
"It needs both the Mark and a Parselmouth!" Bella screamed back in frustration, "I can't bloody kill you!"
Harry snorted. "You weren't going to anyway," he said, "you are probably just lying to save your worthless hide."
Bellatrix groaned. "Like I would keep YOU alive unless I had to," she snapped, "but we won't get out of here unless we are both alive. Remember that the Dark Lord is the only one who could command both, the Dark Mark and parseltongue. Only he can use the other exit by himself."
"Darn, great," Harry thought. "Now neither can survive unless the other lives."
"Where is this other exit?" he asked out loud.
"I don't know, exactly," Bellatrix admitted, "this is a complicated maze. But the Dark Lord told me about the other exit, that he used it years and years ago. He was positive it needs the Mark and a Parselmouth."
Harry bashed his skull. "Think, Harry, think. Snape is in danger. I have to get a message to him! Erm…wait…no. Bellatrix is the only one who knows for sure, so it only becomes relevant once we get out of here. Now I gotta tag along with the bitch to survive! This SO sucks."
"Ok. OK! Truce, then. Neither of us can afford to kill the other it seems."
"No," Bellatrix said, looking so incredibly chagrined that Harry started believing her words. Someone so obviously unsubtle couldn't act if their lives depended on it.
"Great. Just bloody great! Let's go then. Do you at least have a vague idea in which direction we should go?"
The witch shrugged, retrieving her wand.
Harry sighed. "Ok…last I knew Hogwarts was to the North. The lake extends above us and to the West. I suppose this other exit would most likely be to the South of Hogwarts?"
"Stands to reason it does," Bella grumbled.
"Point me," Harry said to his wand. It pointed North. In the opposite direction of the room was a corridor.
"That is south, then. Let's go."
They walked for hours without saying a word to each other. Harry was well equiped, having taken into consideration before he left that he might be some time, but Bellatrix had only her wand. Soon she was shivering in her thin robe.
Harry, who had brought and was wearing two robes, unclasped one and handed it to her.
"Can't have you freeze to death or I'll never get out," he muttered angrily.
"Aren't you the epitome of chivalry," the witch sneered, but still took the cloak.
"We have to go to the left here," Harry said.
"Awww, the ittle baby knows better? I had more experience with this sort of thing when you were still in your cradle."
"I thought you were torturing infants, not doing cave explorations."
Bellatrix' eyes glowed eerily. "Just because you were lucky enough to escape the Dark Lord once, boy…"
"Five times, actually. Not counting your attack on Hogwarts."
"Ah, yes. When Severus killed the Headmaster to save his own worthless hide. What was it like, seeing him fall off that tower?"
"Shut up," Harry said, using the Four Point spell again.
"He wasn't very willing to make that Unbreakable Vow, you know," Bellatrix continued, conversationally, "I had to force him into it after questioning him about his loyalties. It was only because of Cissy that I gave in. At first I thought I'd regret it, but when he killed Dumbledore…why, I was glad I didn't..rat…on him yet."
Harry's eyes flashed.
"Wormtail was there, too," the witch continued, delighting in Harry's obvious anger, "he lived with Snape. Imagine, all the times Severus could have planned for Wormtail to get accidentally caught and clear my dear cousin's name!"
Harry felt his blood boil as she taunted him about Sirius, and he came VERY close to cursing here. Only Hermione's voice in his head, urging him to ignore her if he wanted to get out of these caves alive, allowed him to keep his cool and continue.
Taking a left turn, they found themselves in a large cave.
"What now, oh glorious Chosen One?" Bellatrix said.
"I suppose you don't want to tell me where the Horcrux is, do you?"
"Horcrux?" Bellatrix narrowed her eyes.
"Yes, Horcrux. You know, vessel for a bit of soul, anchoring to this world, blahblahblah…"
"What about it?"
Harry sighed. "I want to find it. That's why I came down to these caves."
Bellatrix froze. "That's a Horcrux down here?"
"Well DUH," Harry said, looking around and noticing another door.
The Four Point spell indicated that continuing in that direction could be a good idea.
He walked towards it, and cast a few detection spells Bill Weasley had taught him. Bill had becomeincredibly bored on sickleave, as his mother and future wife had busied themselves with the wedding, and thought Harry might need a few good spells if he was going Horcrux hunting. Harry smiled grimly, remembering how seriously they had both taken this. As if Bill was considering Harry his successor. The injuries he had sustained had changed the eldest Weasley.
Bill, still scarred and weary, sat in a hammock in the Weasley garden, lecturing Harry on the dangers of cursebreaking.
"…and of course, you have to factor in ALL reactions, because when an item is cursed with more then one curse, the countercurse for one might set off another. You'll want to make sure you figure them all out…"
On another occasion, Bill had taught Harry the basic spells for cursebreaking.
"There are five," he told Harry, "only five, but countless variations on them. You begin by determining the curse or curses you are dealing with. Then you jot down of every curse what category they are. Each category corresponds with one of the five basic countercurses. There are diagrams and all in the books I gave you. Remember, that a counter for one type of curse is a trigger for a curse in the opposite category. The most tricky are objects warded with curses of opposing categories. But you won't encounter those often; the magic required to keep two opposites together is usually more trouble then is worthwhile, even for Voldemort…"
Bellatrix kicked Harry in the shin.
"Well, golden boy, wouldn't you get on with it?"
Harry scowled, and determining there were no curses on the door, he opened it. A large, very dark corridor lay before them.
"More dirty, dark passages," the witch grumbled, "should've worn old robes."
"Maybe you should've remembered to wear your Death Eater robes," Harry sneered, "they seem warm enough. Workrobes to you people, aren't they? I just can't figure out what the joy in killing people and being ordered around by a halfblood actually is."
It was Bellatrix' turn to go red in anger.
"You insulted the Dark Lord!" she screamed.
Harry raised an eyebrow in a distinct Snapish manner. "Obviously," he stated, "though only if one considers having Muggle relatives insulting."
Bellatrix glowered. "You hate your Muggle relatives too."
Harry shrugged. "It's not insulting to me to HAVE Muggle relatives. It's just that my Muggle relatives ARE insulting. But you don't see me running around, killing Muggles just because I happened to grow up with three of the most obnoxious people alive."
"My Lord does NOT have Muggle relatives!" the witch was nearly foaming at the mouth now.
"Not anymore, no," Harry said casually, as he made his way into the corridor, following the narrow beam of the Lumos spell from his wand, "he killed them when he was just out of school. The Riddle Mansion, where he took up headquarters, belonged to his father and grandparents. Why else do you think he was resurrected there? He needed a bone from his Muggle father."
Suddenly he heared a sound, and only years of Seeker instincts allowed him to duck in time as Bellatrix launched herself at him. .
He heard her thump against a wall, and he quickly aimed the lightbeam at her. She sat up dazed, but her eyes still glared at him in hatred.
"Really, do remember that we both have to survive if we want to escape this…maze," Harry drawled, snickering inwardly as he reminded himself to thank Snape for the lessons in infuriatingly calm behavior as soon as they were out of here.
She nearly snarled, reminding him briefly of Sirius, who used to have that same look on his face as a dog when he was unhappy about something. He thought it wise, however, not to mention this for fear of having his eyes scratched out.
And so, in a very tense silence and with occasional hateful stares, they continued the long journey out of the caves.